Matthew 21:23 – 22:46
Christ’s Authority Questioned by the Jewish Leaders (21:23-27)
The Sanhedrin Question the Lord’s Authority to Cleanse the Temple (21:23)
The Lord Asks them To Define the Source of John’s Baptism (21:24-27)
Three Parables that Expose the Hardness of the Jewish Leaders (21:28 – 22:14)
- The Parable of the Two Sons (21:28-32)
- The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (21:33-46)
- The Parable of the Wedding Feast (22:1-14)
The Parable of the Two Sons: Man Cloaks His Rebellion in Religious Hypocrisy (21:28-32)
The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen: Man Usurps the Son’s Inheritance (21:33-46)
The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (21:33-41)
Isaiah 5. This parable told by our Lord is a clear allusion to the song of the well-beloved and his vineyard in Isa. 5. The Old Testament account of the vineyard has been called “the key to the Old Testament” because it encapsulates the entire history of Israel in the dispensational ways of God. As always, a vineyard in scripture speaks of man under responsibility to produce fruit for God. The figure is often applied directly to the nation of Israel, as a sample of man under responsibility. It is in contrast to “the true vine” (John 15:1), which is the Lord Jesus Christ; the key to fruit-bearing is to abide in the True Vine. In Isaiah 5 we read that Jehovah had a vineyard. He brought that vine out of Egypt and planted it in Canaan (Psa. 80:8). He went to great lengths to make it successful:
- He planted it in a “very fruitful hill”, called Canaan.
- He “fenced” it, or separated it from the nations by giving them the ordinances (Eph. 2:14-15).
- He removed the “stones”, or Canaanite nations.
- He built a “tower “, which might be the defensible hill of Jerusalem, or it might refer to the light of prophecy, which allows one to see a great distance.
- He build a “winepress”, which represents Judaistic worship.
After all His efforts to give the vine the optimal environment, the vineyard produced “wild grapes”… sin and rebellion. Jehovah exclaims, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Israel was but a sample of the first man. Given the perfect geographical environment, the perfect political climate, the perfect religion… the first man can produce nothing for God. He pronounces therefore the judgments on the vineyard:
- Removal of the hedge and wall. This speaks of the removal of divine protection from Israel. This results in the enemies desolating the land, which happened beginning slowly, then increasing until Israel was taken captive and the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
- Stopping of the vineyard’s cultivation. This speaks of the cessation of prophets and priests, the workers in the vineyard to “stir up” the conscience of the people.
- Stopping the rain. This speaks of cutting off the flow of divine blessing to Israel.
In Isaiah 5 the problem is the vine itself… the first man is incapable of producing fruit for God. In Matthew 21 the problem is the husbandmen… the wicked leaders of Israel suppressed the fruit.
- Destroyed. He will “miserably destroy those evil men”. This occurred in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed. Many of the Jewish leaders were brutally killed at the hands of the Romans.
- Dispossessed. He will “let out the vineyard to other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons”. The management of the vineyard would be given to the despised faithful remnant, who would render the fruit of Israel in the Millennial day. This cannot refer to the Church because the “vineyard” is always Israel!
The Application of the Parable to the Pharisees (21:42-46)
- Those who rejected Him at His first coming; they “shall be broken”, referring to the judgment of the nation in A.D. 70.
- Those who would be judged at His second coming; “it shall grind him to powder”, referring to the appearing (Dan. 2:34, 35).
The Parable of the Wedding Feast: Man Refuses to Honor the Son (22:1-14)
God’s Purpose to Honor His Son (vv.1-2)
Successive Appeals to Israel Rejected (vv.3-7)
- To the invitees before preparations were complete – offer rejected.
- To the invitees after all things were ready – offer violently rejected.
- To those previously not invited – offer accepted with mixed reality.
The Gentiles Invited (vv.8-10)
The Guest without a Wedding Garment (vv.11-14)
Three Attempts to Ensnare the Lord in His Words (22:15-46)
Proof of their Rejection. The Lord had come into Jerusalem as the King of Israel for a final witness to the nation. He came in the fulfillment of prophecy, with all the proofs of His messianic authority. Then He proceeded to unfold three parables describing the evil heart of the Jewish leaders. Now, in this section, these very leaders will manifest that evil heart in a series of three attempts to ensnare the Lord. It is possible that these three leading groups of opponents in Judaism, the Herodians, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees are what the Lord refers to as “three shepherds” in Zech 11:8. “And I destroyed three shepherds in one month; and my soul was vexed with them, and their soul also loathed me.”
By the Pharisees and Herodians: Paying Taxes to Caesar (22:15-22)
- Step 1: Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. We must first submit to the authorities over us, including the government of God. The Lord was not here to free the Jews from the Romans. Even the Jew’s money didn’t belong to them. Why? Because of their sin and failure. They were unwilling to own that the times of the Gentiles was a direct governmental consequence of Israel’s rebellion. We too live in a world where things aren’t right. Corrupt governments are in power now as then. We must live and trade with “what is Caesar’s” and be willing to submit to the government, seeing it as an extension of the government of God.
- Step 2: Render to God what is God’s. Put God’s interests before our own. The Jews had an outward profession, but they had evil hearts, and defiled consciences. Caesar owns the currency, but God owns everything. God wants what Caesar can never take away; our soul. We must yield to God what is His due. Once the faithful remnant of Israel bows to the government of God (step 1) and commits themselves to God’s will (step 2) then God will change the circumstances… but not until then.
By the Sadducees: Marriage at the Resurrection (22:23-33)
- They erred not knowing the scriptures in that:
- Their hypothetical scenario was moot! They did not understand that marriage has to do with this earth. They rejected the prophets, which, if they had heeded Malachi 2:15, would have shown that one purpose of the institution of marriage is to continue “a godly seed”. In the state of resurrection, beyond death, there is not longer a need to continue a godly seed, etc. and therefore no more marriage.
- The law of Moses proves the resurrection! The Old Testament explicitly speaks of resurrection, but not in the first five books (see 1 Samuel 2:6; Job 19:25-27; Psalm 16:9,10; Psalm 17:15; and Daniel 12:2). The Sadducees denied the inspiration of the Psalms and the Prophets. Here the Lord, the Author of the scriptures, reveals from the very Pentateuch (their “strong point”) the truth of resurrection! When God first revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush, He declared Himself as; “Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). At this time Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been in the grave for nearly 400 years. Every Jew knew that God was God of the living (the “living God”, Deut. 5:26), not the God of the dead. Therefore, the patriarchs must not be annihilated, and certainly God intended to raise them again!
- They erred not knowing God’s power in that their thoughts did not rise up to the truth of resurrection. Resurrection is a glory which belongs only to God (John 5:21). It means – terrifying thought to man – that nothing is hid from His power. Rather than compliment man’s pride, it strikes fear in his heart. read more…
By the Pharisees: The Greatest Commandment (22:34-40)
Jesus Questions the Pharisees: Whose Son is the Christ? (22:41-46)
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him;
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy, or wrath are your lot.Some take him a creature to be,
A man, or an angel at most:
Sure these have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched, and lost;
So guilty, so helpless, am I,
I durst not confide in his blood;
Nor on his protection rely,
Unless I were sure he is God.